Environmental Information

Environmental Information

Delivery of environmental information is a fundamental principle of environmental law and environmental justice. This principle is established by the Aarhus Convention and implemented in Israel and abroad. For example, while the Freedom of Information Act, which gives every citizen or resident the right to receive information from a public authority deals with any information of general type, the importance of environmental information in light of special regulations enacted under this Law requires entities that emit pollutants to the environment to report on emissions proactively. 

As a result, large volumes of additional environmental information pass from factories and companies to the public. 

Some examples of this may be:

Voluntary reports (GRI) companies to the public;

Requests for information originating from environmental organizations and from the public, to disclose permits, licenses, lab results, etc.;

Environmental reports to the Stock Exchange which public companies are obliged to provide;

Publications of the Ministry of Environment such as the environmental impact index developed by the Ministry of Environment;

Rating reports proactively delivered to companies such as Maala's CSR Index assessment of Israeli Companies;

Reports submitted according to the Environmental Protection Law and the PRTR - reports (Pollutant release and transfer register); 

An important issue for you and for us is IT security. A large amount of Environmental information is being collected and stored by you either during the preparation of documents required by law or in response to reporting obligations imposed upon you, both in the course of the in-house investigation of the environmental event or the preparation of an initiated environmental impact study (performed by investigators in the process of ISO 14000 - certification for example). Additional information is collected in your internal communications, e-mail correspondence, minutes of meetings etc. 

Such information has the potential to incriminate you or get you into trouble with proof of execution of the offense, or could be a business secret, a trademark or your profession secret. When you are in a situation where you are not aware of the legal status of each of the documents, and of the ability of strangers outside the organization to obtain the documents in legal and legitimate ways, there seems to be a problem here. 

Western countries saw fit to enshrine in legislation privilege to such findings, revealed in a proactive environment survey. We are well aware of these legislations. The purpose of such legislation is to encourage enterprises to maintain strict self-criticism, to proceed to correct any deficiencies and to improve the environmental behavior, depending on the findings, without the concern of prosecution which might rely on the findings of a proactive environment survey. 

Whereas Israel has no similar legislation, and in the current legal situation environmental documents that are in your hand are not properly protected - whether received from third parties (laboratories, consultants, etc.) or self formulated, you require legal advice how to "eat the cake and leave it whole" - how to comply with requirements from environmental authorities to communicate information, yet avoid self-incrimination, or harm your interests with that information. In this game - an all determinant factor is preventive consulting. In other words, to check and find after the event how documents of the organization caused damage, is crying over spilled milk. We can help you classify the documents you hold, and recommend ways to keep them and other trade secrets that you have under lid.